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Food Co-ops: Making Healthy, Local Food More Accessible, NOFA SC, 8.11.13
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Food Co-ops: Making Healthy, Local Food More Accessible, NOFA SC, 8.11.13

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Bonnie Hudspeth, Outreach Coordinator for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association & Micha Josephy, Program Manager for the Cooperative Fund of New England, share how twenty-nine New England food co-ops …

Bonnie Hudspeth, Outreach Coordinator for the Neighboring Food Co-op Association & Micha Josephy, Program Manager for the Cooperative Fund of New England, share how twenty-nine New England food co-ops are collaborating to make wholesome, nutritious food more accessible to all community members. This presentation explores the capacity of food co-ops to increase access to healthy food for individuals/families with limited food budgets, and strategies to increase collaboration among food co-ops for a larger collective impact.

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  • 1. Food Co-ops: Making Healthy, Local Food More Accessible Micha Josephy & Bonnie Hudspeth NOFA Summer Conference // August 11, 2013 1
  • 2. Overview • Introductions • Problem: Hunger in our Communities • Solution: Co-ops! -- What are they? -- Why can they address hunger? -- What challenges to co-ops face in this area? • Food Co-ops & Healthy Food Access -- Partners -- Projects • Questions and Discussion 2
  • 3. The Problem • In the Northeast, over 2.9 million households (13.5%) are food insecure, meaning they lack the resources to access enough food. • Households with children or seniors are more likely to be food insecure, and are the most vulnerable to hunger’s impact on health and well-being. • In the US, 2.3 million households have limited access to supermarkets and grocery stores. Many of these households are low-income and food insecure. • The need is spread through urban, rural, and increasingly suburban communities 3
  • 4. The Solution ? 4
  • 5. What is a Co-op? A co-operative is: * an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily * to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations * through a jointly-owned and democratically- controlled enterprise International Co-operative Alliance 5
  • 6. “User” Focused • User-Owned: The people who use the co-op’s services also own it. • User-Controlled: The people who use the co-op control it on a democratic basis (one-member, one- vote). • User-Benefit: The people who use the co-op receive benefits such as patronage dividends, improved price, goods and services & employment. 6
  • 7. Co-ops Today Are more common than we think • 1 billion members worldwide (1 in 4 in the US) • More people than own stock in publically traded corporations • Majority of US farmers are co-op members Are innovative • Healthy food, organic agriculture, Fair Trade, re-localization, regional aggregation & distribution Are successful • 30,000 co-ops in all sectors of US economy Are resilient • Survived and grew during the global recession 7
  • 8. 8
  • 9. Co-ops in New England • 1,400 co-ops across industries (Food Co-ops, Farmer Co-ops, Credit Unions, Worker Co-ops, Energy Co-ops, Housing Co-ops, etc.) • 5 million memberships • Employ 22,000 people 9
  • 10. The Birth & Growth of the Co-op Movement • Rochdale Pioneers • Begin with a store • Accumulate shared capital • Leverage purchasing power for new Co-op enterprises • All about HEALTHY FOOD ACCESS 10
  • 11. Co-ops & Resilience Community ownership & control + Focus on service, meeting needs before profit + Development of local skills & assets + Regional economic efficiencies + Ability to assemble limited resources + Difficult to move or buy-out + Root wealth in communities, not markets + Member, customer loyalty + Low business failure rate & are long-lived ------------------------------------------------------------------ = More stable local food systems, infrastructure, employment, services & economy 11
  • 12. Structural Challenges • Balancing various goals  Planet, People, Profit • Economies of Scale  Economic Competition against Big Boxes • Barriers to Entry  Limited Capacity of individual co-ops 12
  • 13. Food Co-ops and Healthy Food Access • Increase access to healthy food and co-op ownership for low-income families in New England. • Facilitate information sharing among co-ops. • Highlight the role co-ops play in healthy food access. 13
  • 14. Vision Focus Areas Strategy Thriving Regional Economy Network Partnerships Collaboration among Co-ops Healthy, Just & Sustainable Food System 14
  • 15. VERMONT • Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro • Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op, Hardwick • City Market / Onion River Co-op, Burlington • Co-op Food Store, White River Junction • Granite City Grocery, Barre • Hunger Mountain Food Co-op, Montpelier • Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Middlebury • Plainfield Food Co-op, Plainfield • Putney Food Co-op, Putney • Rutland Area Food Co-op, Rutland • South Royalton Food Co-op, South Royalton • Southshire Community Market, Bennington • Springfield Food Co-op, Springfield • Stone Valley Community Market, Poultney • Upper Valley Food Co-op, White River Jct. CONNECTICUT • Elm City Co-op Market, New Haven • Fiddleheads Food Co-op, New London • The Local Beet Co-op, Chester • Willimantic Food Co-op, Willimantic NEW HAMPSHIRE • Co-op Food Store, Hanover • Co-op Food Store, Lebanon • Great River Co-op, Walpole • Littleton Food Co-op, Littleton • Manchester Food Co-op, Manchester • Monadnock Community Market, Keene MASSACHUSETTS • Assabet Village Food Co-op, Maynard • Dorchester Community Co-op, Dorchester • Green Fields Co-op Market, Greenfield • Leverett Village Co-op, Leverett • McCusker's Co-op Market, Shelburne Falls • Merrimack Valley Food Co-op, Lawrence • Old Creamery Co-op, Cummington • River Valley Co-op Market, Northampton • Wild Oats Co-op Market, Williamstown RHODE ISLAND • Urban Greens Food Co-op, Providence 15
  • 16. NFCA Member Impact • A Co-op of 20 food co-ops and 12 start-up projects • 90,000 individual members • 1,400 employees (2010) – 1,200 in 2007 – VT members among top 25 employers in the state • Paid $28.6 million in wages… – Average wage was 18% higher than the average for food and beverage industry in same states. • $200 million revenue (2010) – $161 million in 2007 • $33 million in local purchases (2007) 16
  • 17. • Founded in 1975 • Finance co-ops and nonprofits • Loaned over $30 million • 99.2% repayment rate • 100% repayment rate to investors • Created/saved 8,415 jobs and 4,462 housing units 17 CFNE Impact
  • 18. 18 Worker Co-op 11% Nonprofit 9% Mfg. Housing Co-op 8% Housing Co-op 18% Food Co-op 43% Cohousing 3% Other Co-op 8% CFNE Borrowers 4-30-2013 Govern- ment 15% Bank 5% Found- ation 9% Faith- Based 25% Trust 6% Individual 31% Co-op 9% CFNE Investors 4-30-2013 $- $2.0 $4.0 $6.0 $8.0 $10.0 $12.0 $14.0 Millions CFNE Portfolio 1975-2012
  • 19. Challenges Revisited Structural Specific to HFA 1) Balancing Goals 1) Time/Cost of designing and implementing affordability programs 2) Economies of Scale 2) Reaching prospective co-op shoppers/members 3) Barriers to Entry 3) Perception of co-ops as expensive 4) Pricing 19
  • 20. 1) Time / Cost of Design and Implementation Sharing Resources: – Planning timeline – Pro-forma for financial projections – Marketing materials – Educational program design – Staff training – NFCA/CFNE Role 20
  • 21. 21 2) Reaching Prospective Shoppers/Members Smart Partnerships: Hunger Free Vermont Nonprofit education & advocacy organization whose mission is to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters. • The formula: • Children are fed healthful food wherever they are in their day. • Individuals and families have access to enough 3SquaresVT (SNAP) benefits to purchase nutritious food for their family. • All those who need education on cooking & nutrition have access to it. • Charitable food is used only for emergencies. www.hungerfreevt.org
  • 22. 3) Perceptions about Co-ops • Education on variety and value • Using welcoming/inclusive language in all communications (in store and in advertising, marketing, etc.) • Host community events & do store tours: get people in the door! 22
  • 23. 4) Pricing • Affordability Programs – BASICS – Food For All – After school programs • Membership installment plan • Classes on cooking, food prep, etc. • Shopping on a Budget, bulk section tours 23
  • 24. Framework: Aspects of Healthy Food Access Programs 1. Collaboration with Partner Organizations 2. Inclusive Marketing 3. Education of Individuals 4. Product Affordability 5. Accessible Ownership 6. Infrastructure 24
  • 25. - Brattleboro Food Co-op - Monadnock Food Co-op - Putney Food Co-op 25 A Neighboring Approach…
  • 26. Co-Branding = Bigger Impact 26
  • 27. HFA Challenges & Responses Challenges: • Reaching prospective co-operators • Pricing • Perception re: co-ops as expensive • Time/Cost of designing and implementing affordability programs Responses: • Smart partnering • Basics, discounts, bulk, education re: cooking. • Education re: variety & value • Sharing resources among co-ops (CFNE/NFCA) 27
  • 28. Successes & Strengths  Willingness to do it  Community and member based entities  Vision of inclusion  Co-op model allows flexibility 28
  • 29. What’s Next? 1. Toolbox 2. Technical Assistance 3. Peer-to-Peer Audits 4. Coordinated roll-out 5. Partnering for success 29
  • 30. Contact Us Micha Josephy, Program Manager Cooperative Fund of New England micha@coopfund.coop // www.coopfund.coop Bonnie Hudspeth, Outreach Coordinator Neighboring Food Co-op Association bonnie@nfca.coop // www.nfca.coop www.facebook.com/neighboring 30